The renovated Hydraulic Tower at Everton Stadium is visible for the first time after scaffolding was stripped back from the upper levels.
The Grade II listed Tower and Engine Room, built in 1883, have been hidden beneath a cloak of steelwork since early in the build, to protect from vibrations caused by the compacting of the sand used to infill the former dock and provide the foundations for the stadium.
Since then, the buildings, which formed an integral part of daily life during the dock’s heyday, have been lovingly restored to former glories brick-by-brick.
That has included painstakingly rebuilding the former station master’s office on the first floor by salvaging, or carefully sourcing colour-matched bricks - in conjunction with the heritage consultant and Liverpool City Council - to help replicate the original look.
A timber roof is now being added, while a new zinc roof has been manufactured for the engine house chimney.
Internal works are continuing, ensuring the restoration of the tower is both sympathetic to its past and sustainable for its, as yet undetermined, future use.
Protecting the tower - which originally contained the steam engine to operate the locks at Bramley-Moore and also pumped water from one part of the dock to another - has always been a priority, given its huge importance to the site and a focal point of the fan plaza that will eventually provide fans with a jaw-dropping entrance to the stadium site.
Meanwhile, another preserved aspect of the former dock – the retaining wall - can be seen for the first time within the stadium.
Part of the unique nature of the project sees the existing walls of the infilled dock incorporated into the final design, with the surface visible within parts of the stadium upon completion.
The exposed stonework can now be seen in the emerging north stand, where it will provide a historic nod to the past for supporters entering the turnstiles.
Externally, the two rainwater harvesting tanks, located underground between the east stand and the Hydraulic Tower, are now close to being encased in concrete.
Once submerged, a concrete slab at ground level will complete the installation process, after which the filled tanks can be used to flush toilets on site and water the pitch.
The first sections of the iconic roof at the new Everton Stadium have come through rigorous wind and rain testing ahead of installation.
As standard in the industry, the testing is devised to replicate the relative position of spectators to determine the level of protection from the natural elements of wind and rain.
A novel feature of the steel and aluminium roof are the engineered perforated holes, which provide vital wind mitigation on the exposed site, adjacent to the River Mersey.
And following intense tests at the Vinci Technology Centre in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, where a section of the roof was subjected to wind speeds far in excess of what can be expected, senior staff from construction partner Laing O’Rourke have been delighted with the results.
Project Director, Gareth Jacques, explained: “A key feature of the outside skin of the barrel cladding system is that it is perforated which helps to dissipate the wind and provide shelter for the spectators."
“In the test we conducted, I was standing at an equivalent distance to the top row of seating behind a mock-up section of the cladding.
“The wind machine was then gradually increased to full capacity - and protection from the cladding was very effective and worked really well."
In the tests, carefully calibrated lines were also laid out on the floor to replicate the closest seating positions, which led to more positive feedback in regard to wind and water penetration.
The perforated steel cladding is a key feature of Everton’s new home, which promises to be the most sustainable stadium in the Premier League.
Three installed tiers will result in rainwater draining into specially installed channels and into the two subterranean harvesting tanks located in the north-east corner of the stadium.
From there, the water collected can be utilised for flushing the 914 WCs on site and also for watering and maintaining the playing surface.
Many elements of the stadium’s future sustainability impacts are noted in the 2022 Sport Positive Leagues Sustainability Matrix, which sees Everton placed 12th of the 20 Premier League clubs in the annual report. This covers all of the Club’s sustainability features across all existing sites, including the ageing Goodison Park as well as Finch Farm and the main offices at the Royal Liver Building.
The sustainability impacts of the new stadium don’t count towards the Club’s overall score in the matrix but will in the future once the stadium is completed in the 2024/25 season.
Roof panel, wind tunnel and Gareth
Meanwhile, the roofing structure continues to evolve at Everton Stadium in readiness for the cladding.
The barrel support sections now stretch along the extent of the west stand and support the upper-level terracing of the bowl, providing lateral restraint and spreading the permanent load into the main structure. Connections will soon support a series of cantilevering trusses, each up to 60m long.
These ribs, assembled pitch side at ground level, will then support the steel canopy that extends and spans over the top of the seating.
That process will be repeated in the east stand, where the initial barrel sections will start soon.
Next week, a temporary staircase will be installed to the roof in north stand to allow roofers to commence permanent roof coverings.
This work will see a standing seam roof system installed on top of the steelwork, which sees narrow sheets rolled off a coil in three long sections and connected together, providing further weather protection to the stands.
Below that will be a layer of insulation, predominantly for acoustics.
That process will then be repeated in the south stand.